World news – Advances in research on the most general stem cell type


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January 11, 2021

by Karolinska Institutet

Stem cell research is the prerequisite for regenerative medicine, which uses body cells to restore and heal important organs. Now researchers at Karolinska Institutet, SickKids in Canada and KU Leuven in Belgium have found a method to define the most general stem cell type that can develop into all cell types in the body. The study of totipotent stem cells in mice was published in Nature Cell Biology.

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« There is a lot of interest in pushing the limits of stem cell potential in order to capture the totipotent state. Therefore, we needed criteria to assess whether a stem cell line actually achieved this goal, » says Dr. Janet Rossant, Emeritus Research Director and Senior Scientist in the & Stem Cell Biology Program at SickKids.

The replication of mouse stem cells in a totipotent state within a laboratory is a long-sought goal of stem cell biologists around the world. If successfully manufactured, such a stem cell line could have profound effects in the field and enable the study of normal development and regenerative medicine.

Totipotency is the ability of a cell to hold any cell type in the early embryo, as well as the support structures of the embryo, including the placenta , to create. This ability is typically only found during the first cell divisions of an embryo.

So far, mouse stem cell lines have been established in a pluripotent state. However, these cells can only produce other cell types in the embryo or in the placenta, but not both.

A research team from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Canada and the KU Leuven in Belgium has a number criteria are provided to assess whether a mouse stem cell line has true totipotency.

The team tested two different mouse stem cell lines that were reported as potentially totipotent and scored them based on their criteria.

« While both lines have some Showed differences in gene expression compared to pluripotent stem cells, they did not look like totipotent early embryo cells and did not form specific functional cells in the placenta, « says Fredrik Lanner, assistant professor at the Department of Clinical Science. Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital and one of its authors.

« Ultimately, we realized that the search for a totipotent stem cell is still ongoing. My laboratory is particularly focused on it now interested in extending these studies to humans and intensifying our efforts to establish human totipotent stem cells to better model the early development of the human embryo, « he said.

The research has led to a number of clear criteria for that Validation of new cell lines resulted. In addition, the team developed a comprehensive analysis of gene expression and regulation at the single cell level for embryos and various pluripotent stem cell lines. The researchers believe this will be a valuable resource for the scientific community.

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Related title :
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New criteria bring stem cell research one step closer to achieving the long-awaited goal goal



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